The Senate, as of Tuesday, has failed to pass a resolution honoring the passing of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, after Senator Ted Cruz objected to a line inserted by Democrats about Ginsburg’s dying wish that the vacancy not be filled until after the presidential election is decided.
Senator Ted Cruz accused Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer of politicizing a ceremonial effort, and changing a “bipartisan resolution into a partisan resolution.”
Cruz scolded the Democrats over their complaints about the Republicans moving ahead with a nomination before the election. He suggested replacing the partisan line with one that reflects Ginsburg’s objections to packing the court with additional justices, which the Democrats have suggested doing as revenge should they retake the Senate and presidency in the election.
“We are sadly seeing one side of the aisle embrace more and more dangerous and radical proposals, including trying to use brute political force to politicize the court. That is not consistent with the Constitution,” the Senator said.
Schumer’s response to Cruz was the typical Democrat attack, without any actual argument against the points that Senator Cruz made. “Justice Ginsburg would easily see through the legal sophistry of the argument of the junior senator from Texas. To turn Justice Ginsburg’s dying words against her is so, so beneath the dignity of this body,” Schumer said.
Cruz then objected to Schumer’s version of the resolution, tabling it for the time being.
This dispute is representative of the tensions and fighting occuring within the nation’s capitol over President Trump and Senate Republicans’ decision to move ahead to the nomination process. Both Trump and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell have made clear that they will be attempting to push the nomination through prior to the election.
Democrats have attempted to use Senate Republicans’ past statements against them in regards to not replacing the late Justice Antonin Scalia in 2016 with former President Obama‘s nomination of Merrick Garland. Republicans have repeatedly argued that the circumstances were different, as Senator Cruz did in his argument against the resolution.
The opening on the court came nine months prior to the 2016 election, and Republicans refused to consider Obama’s nominee. The difference between that situation and today is that there was a divided government. With a Democrat president, and a Republican majority in the Senate, the voters had clearly chosen to place a check on Obama’s presidential powers.
Today, Republicans control the Senate and the presidency, and therefore have the ability to confirm a Supreme Court Justice.
“Maybe Justice Ginsburg hoped that her dying wish could save the Senate majority from itself. It doesn’t appear that way. But here on the floor this afternoon, we ask our colleagues to acknowledge her entire life and legacy, including her dying wish,” Schumer said, attempting to counter Senator Cruz’s objection.
“Under the Constitution, members of the judiciary do not appoint their own successors,” Cruz said, in response to this argument.
Cruz also cited a previous statement from Justice Ginsburg about court-packing, where she told NPR: “Nine seems to be a good number. It’s been that way for a long time.”